Famously a favourite of the Royal Family, Dubonnet is an aperitif style wine that was first created in 1846.
During the 1840s, soldiers in the French colonial army were suffering in great numbers from malaria. Quinine was a remedy, but was nearly unpalatably bitter. The French authorities offered a reward to anyone who could create an approachable means of consuming Quinine.
Interestingly, Dubonnet is based on the pressed juice of Grenache, carignan, muscat, and macabeo grapes which is mixed with a neutral alcohol to prevent any fermentation. This process ensures that the grape juice retains natural sweetness and fruity flavours, and avoids the need to add any additional sugar to the final product.
This mixture, named ‘mistelle’ is aged for between three to four years in oak casks, developing the complexity of the fortified juice. The mistelle is then pressurized, and repeated forced through containers filled with flavourings including green coffee, elderflower, cinnamon, chamomile, orange peel, cocoa, quinine and Colombo. This process takes up to 8 hours to ensure that the liqueur is fully flavoured. It is then chill filtered at -9ºC.
The final result possesses a colour somewhat similar to a lighter red wine. Dubonnet Rouge offers notes of juicy red fruit, cinnamon and mixed spice, caramel, sultanas, filter coffee, dark chocolate, tonic water, orange rind and plums.
Delicious served on the rocks, this is an interesting cocktail ingredient and the Queen Mother used to enjoy it mixed with gin!